Ireland joins UN rejection of US move on Jerusalem

Assembly votes 128-9 to keep city’s status for Israeli-Palestinian peace process to decide

More than 100 countries, including Ireland, defied Donald Trump and voted in favor of a UN General Assembly resolution calling for the US to withdraw its decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Video: Reuters


Ireland has joined the United Nations general assembly in delivering a stinging rebuke to Donald Trump, voting as part of a huge majority to reject his unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The result came despite a redoubling of threats by Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, who warned that Washington would remember which countries “disrespected” the United States by voting against it.

Despite the warning, 128 members voted in favour of the resolution, with only nine, including the United States and Israel, voting against. There were 35 abstentions, including Canada.

Immediately after the result the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, described it as a victory for Palestine.

The 193-member body voted instead to support the long-standing international consensus that the status of Jerusalem, which is claimed by both Israel and the Palestinians as a capital, can be settled only as an agreed final issue in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Furious diplomacy

Although largely symbolic, the vote in emergency session of the world body became the focus of days of furious diplomacy by both the Trump administration and Israel, including Trump’s threat to cut US funding to countries that did not back the US recognition.

Speaking to the assembly, Haley, who earlier in the week told members that the US “would be taking names”, returned to the offensive. “I must also say today: when we make generous contributions to the UN, we also have expectation that we will be respected,” she said. “What’s more, we are being asked to pay for the dubious privileges of being disrespected.” Haley added: “If our investment fails, we have an obligation to spend our investment in other ways. The United States will remember this day.”

Jerusalem vote: Ireland joined the majority in voting against the United States at the general assembly. Photograph: Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/AFP/Getty
Jerusalem vote: Ireland joined the majority in voting against the United States at the general assembly. Photograph: Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/AFP/Getty

In his own speech Israel’s UN ambassador, Danny Danon, said UN members who backed the resolution were being manipulated. “You are like puppets pulled by your Palestinian masters,” he told the session.

Although Thursday’s resolution was in support of existing UN resolutions on Jerusalem and the peace process, the clumsy intervention by Trump and Haley also made the vote a referendum on Trump’s often unilateral and abrasive foreign policy.

The debate and vote highlighted for a second time in a week the international isolation of the United States over the Jerusalem issue, following a vote in the security council on Tuesday over the same issue in which it was outnumbered 14-1.

The threatening US posture, which had been denounced as both counterproductive and bullying, seemed only to have hardened the resolve of countries in opposing Trump’s December 6th move.

“Null and void”

The resolution, cosponsored by Turkey and Yemen, called Trump’s recognition “null and void” and reaffirmed 10 security-council resolutions on Jerusalem, dating back to 1967, including requirements that the city’s final status be decided in direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

It also “demands that all states comply with security council resolutions regarding the holy city of Jerusalem, and not to recognise any actions or measures contrary to those resolutions”.

Earlier on Thursday, as it had become clear that the US and Israel would be heavily defeated, Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, pre-emptively denounced the vote, calling the UN a “house of lies”.

“The state of Israel rejects this vote outright,” Netanyahu said. “Jerusalem is our capital, we will continue to build there and additional embassies will move to Jerusalem. Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, whether or not the UN recognises this. It took 70 years for the United States to formally recognise this, and it will take years for the UN to do the same.”

Michael Oren, Israel’s deputy minister for diplomacy, called for Israel to cut its ties with the UN and expel the organisation from its Jerusalem offices. “We must evict the UN from the scenic Governor’s House, where its bloated staff does nothing, and give this historic site to a school, a hospital or, best yet, a new US embassy.” – Guardian